Friday, July 21, 2006

Latin Liturgy Association

St. Louis Review Online

July 21, 2006

Love of Latin Mass draws Catholics to weekend of devotion
by Barbara Watkins, Review Staff Writer

"Dominus vobiscum."

That sentence, which means "The Lord be with you," is one of the few phrases most Catholics remember from the Latin Mass.

But for the members of the Latin Liturgy Association, "Dominus vobiscum" is just the beginning.

The association, which promotes the use of Latin in all approved rites of the Roman Catholic Church, held its 10th national convention last weekend in St. Louis. More than 100 people turned out for events July 14-16 that included church tours, speakers and Latin Masses — Tridentine and Novus Ordo, Low Mass and High Mass.

"The Latin Mass is like coming home," said Mary Popp. A member of Our Lady of the Rosary Parish in Dayton, Ohio, Popp, 50, traveled to St. Louis for the convention.

"This is the Mass of my father, my grandfather, my great-grandfather. Any other Mass is foreign to me," Popp said.

"The Latin was part of my life in my early years," said Ted Corver, 69, a former St. Louisan who is now a member of St. Martha Parish in Sarasota, Fla. "I felt with the switch to the vernacular we were losing something — our identity as Roman-rite Catholics."

Corver said he attended the first Mass of the Latin Liturgy Association in 1975 at St. Luke the Evangelist Church in Richmond Heights. "Mass in the vernacular is a great teaching tool," he said. "But taking that with the total exclusion of Latin divided people."

There is a mistaken belief by many Catholics that the Second Vatican Council called for ending the Latin Mass and celebrating Mass in the vernacular. That is not the case, according to both the Latin Liturgy Association and Archbishop Raymond L. Burke.

"One of the often-overlooked directives of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council is that, although the vernacular may be introduced in various parts of the Mass and other liturgical rites, the use of the Latin language should also be preserved in our rites," Archbishop Burke said. "More specifically, the council asked that pastors take care that the faithful are able to say and sing those parts of the Mass, which are proper to them."

Archbishop Burke celebrated a Pontifical High Mass at St. Francis de Sales Church July 16 in conjunction with the convention. St. Francis de Sales, an historic church in South St. Louis, has been designated an oratory for celebration of the traditional (pre-Vatican II) Tridentine Mass.

"It has pleased me to celebrate the Solemn Mass for the convention of the Latin Liturgy Association because of the association’s dedicated love of the Church and service of the Church," the archbishop said.

"Although the Mass was celebrated according to the rite found in the 1962 edition of the Roman Missal, the Latin Liturgy Association also fosters the use of Latin in the liturgical rites which were revised after the council. The work of the Latin Liturgy Association is, therefore, pertinent to all of our parishes, not just to the apostolate on behalf of those attached to the 1962 Roman Missal and other liturgical rites as they were celebrated before the conciliar reforms," Archbishop Burke said.

James Hitchcock, a Review columnist and St. Louis University history professor, is a founding member of the Latin Liturgy Association. When the organization was founded in St. Louis in 1975, "people came from all parts of the country, people who felt something was lost with an almost complete abandonment of the Latin liturgy," he said.

"Vatican II spoke of the legitimacy of having the vernacular. It didn’t say you had to (have only vernacular) or that Latin was forbidden," Hitchcock said. "Our organization was founded to point that out and kind of convince people that they have lost something."

Hitchcock said Pope Benedict XVI has shown in his writings that he is "clearly concerned about what he sees as the loss of the rich music tradition of the Church."

"Gregorian chant is the most ancient music of the Church. It is not only venerable because it is old, but people with any appreciation of music have a high regard for chant," he said.

Hitchcock said he and his family usually attend their home parish, St. Roch in the Central West End. "I believe one should support one’s parish, so we only occasionally go to St. Francis de Sales. At St. Roch we sometimes have the Sanctus and Agnus Dei in Latin (and other phrases)," he said.

Hitchcock said that is what he expects to take place in most churches, rather than a return to the Latin Mass. "I think what we are going to see is a move to reintroduce more Latin into parts of the Mass — the Agnus Dei in Latin, the Kyrie in Greek — and we may see a move to have a sung Mass, with the Creed, the Gloria, those parts set to music being sung in Latin."

Hitchcock said there seems to be more people today interested in attending a Latin Mass than there were when the association was founded. "And it’s my impression, when I go to St. Francis de Sales, that it is more of a cross-section of people."

Linda Bromeier and her family also go to Mass at St. Francis de Sales occasionally. Residents of Wildwood, they are members of Most Sacred Heart Parish in Eureka. Bromeier, 48, and her husband Mark, 49, have seven children ages 8 to 23.

"We have been going to the Latin Mass for about 15 years," Bromeier said. "I barely remember Latin Mass as a child ... but when I was about 30 years old, I was searching for something deeper at Mass, and I went to the Latin Mass once. I was just struck by the reverence. The wording of the prayers seems so much loftier and directed at God. It is hard to put into words. I just felt very deeply a strong sense of God’s presence, partly because of the ritual, the quietness, the way people act."

Bromeier said, "Our children like the Mass and know some of the simpler phrases. We like to go as a family once a month or so."

She also praised her home parish. "At Sacred Heart they have Forty Hours devotion, which I was thrilled about, and other things. These ceremonies make me feel connected to Catholics of the past, to 2,000 years of ritual. It is just a great sense of history."

Richard Haefer, 61, is a parishioner of Mater Misericordiae Mission in Phoenix, Ariz. A longtime member of the Latin Liturgy Association, he said, "Latin is the official language of the Church. ... I think they should go back to the documents of Vatican II and ‘reform the reform’ as they say. That does not mean eliminating the vernacular, but having the bulk of the Mass in Latin."

Neil Souther, 67, a member of Christ the King Parish in Mandan, N.D., was a Latin teacher for many years. "Latin is a sacred language. All great religions use a sacred language. The sacredness of the Mass is transparent."

A convert, Souther said that when he became Catholic years ago, "I thought going to Mass was going to paradise. After Vatican II they broke my heart."

Also attending the convention was Allison Smith, 46, a member of St. Gabriel the Archangel Parish in St. Louis Hills. For her the Latin Mass provides "a sense of reverence."

Alex and Diane Begin of Detroit, both 44, called the Latin Mass "a huge part" of their lives. The couple attends two different parishes, St. Josaphat in Detroit and St. Michael across the Canadian border in Windsor, Ontario.

Diane Begin, said, "We basically spend the whole day Sunday doing two Latin Masses. My husband completely sets up and serves at the Mass at St. Josaphat and I do the reception. The hall is available for about 100 people. I bake the food, bring the linens, clean up. It’s like doing a wedding reception. Then we haul ourselves off to Canada."

It is worth the effort, the Begins said, not only for the liturgy itself, but also for the reverence they find at the Latin Mass.

David L. Meyer, 86, is a member of Our Lady of the Holy Cross Parish in Baden. "I believe in tradition. In World War II, no matter where I was, the Mass was in Latin and everything was the same. Now the liturgy is all over the map from church to church. Consistency and tradition are what’s important to me."

Theresa Reyna, 41, came to the Latin Liturgy Association convention from Kansas City, Mo., with her husband, John, and 11-year-old daughter.

"We are cradle Catholics, and I grew up in a very devout family, but I didn’t grow up knowing the Latin Mass," she said. The family began looking into Latin liturgy about a year or two ago. "I enjoyed it so much. This is where we came from, this is where everything originated," she said. "I wanted my daughter to learn young where our history came from."

The Reynas belong to the Latin Mass community in Kansas City, which Bishop Robert Finn, a former St. Louis priest, designated at Old St. Patrick Oratory in Downtown Kansas City. The church is undergoing renovations, a diocesan spokesperson said.

Scott Calta, secretary-treasurer of the Latin Liturgy Association, is a member of St. Francis de Sales Parish near Atlanta, Ga. Now 40, he joined the association at age 18.

"We don’t oppose Mass in the vernacular. But we don’t believe that it should be to the exclusion of our whole religious heritage. Ideally we would like Latin Mass to be available at all parishes each Sunday," he said. "The Latin Mass is our heritage, and too many Catholics have been deprived of that."

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